For many Chabad emissaries, the highlight of the year is the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchim), when they get the chance to study, mingle and gain inspiration from their thousands of peers, who have gathered from 50 states and more than 100 countries.

But with the conference a full half-year in the future, and shelter-in-place orders still mandated or advised in most parts of the world amidst the coronavirus pandemic, where is that inspiration to come from?

The answer: An ad hoc virtual conference on May 7, featuring speakers and presenters from across the globe, streaming live to living rooms and studies from Alaska to Australia—and everywhere in between.

“Our mission as shluchim not only remains unchanged, but gives us the added obligation to be a driving force of positive action and leadership,” says conference organizer Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. “In the spirit of helping each other and with unity being our greatest source of strength, this specially focused online Kinus Hashluchim shared inspiration, support, and practical ideas and techniques to support our shlichus and family life in these times.”

25 Discussions in English, Hebrew and Yiddish

Some of the presentations, including an emotional tribute to those who have passed away during the pandemic, in addition to a group study session, were for the entire group. And many of the 25 discussions (conducted in English, Hebrew and Yiddish) were tailored for specific situations and demographics.

In a telling sign of the times, a good number of presentations focused on bolstering faith, reducing stress, caring for one’s own well-being and the emotional health of one’s family, as well as how to raise funds and budget in an increasingly gaunt economy.

In an era when Chabad emissaries are not able to physically bring together their communities for services or celebrations, emphasis was placed on crafting and sharing best practices for continuing to foster a sense of community via digital communications.

A seamless event, which brought together live speakers and panelists from around the world, required a specially built interface to leverage several platforms, all working together to create a cohesive experience.

And what about those who were not able to attend in person due to time-zone issues or obligations at home or with their communities? Each session was recorded and made available for on-demand replay for the emissaries, ensuring that the impact will continue to be felt around the world.